A Story of Renewal

Rose Hill Mansion, Hilton Head Island, SC
Rose Hill Mansion, Hilton Head Island, SC

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. —2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

One of the places we visited while on our week-long getaway to Hilton Head Island last month was Rose Hill Mansion.

Now, I realize all these Southern plantations come with a history, but Rose Hill’s fascinated me.

Construction on the mansion began in the 1850s as a wedding present from a wealthy physician and planter and his wife to their daughter. When the Civil War broke out, work came to a standstill. How the place was spared from being burned to the ground by Union soldiers is still somewhat of a mystery. One story is that its structure resembled a church, and the enemy couldn’t bring themselves to destroy such a beautiful building.

After the Civil War, the property changed hands a number of times, and work on the interior wasn’t completed until 1946, when its new owners “finished it in grand style”—nearly 100 years after construction first began. For many of those years, though, the house stood empty.

In 1987 a devastating fire destroyed much of the mansion. For nearly a decade it sat—alone, abandoned, desolate, defenseless against heat and cold, sun and storm—until 1996, when a young couple visited the house and saw beyond the ruins. They purchased the property and began a decade-long restoration of the mansion. They worked hard to restore it to its former glory and use as much of the original designs and materials as they could. Today they live in the restored mansion, and tours are given daily, although only the ground floors.

The history of that mansion could be each of our personal histories. We, too, start out with lofty dreams and high hopes. God has a unique blueprint drawn for each of us. His plans are grand.

Then life interrupts. Perhaps we rebel against the God who created us with such love and promise and decide we want to follow our own blueprint and not the Master Builder’s. Perhaps life beats us down, and we’re left a burned-out shell of what could have been. Our faith has been shattered, our hopes dried up, our dreams reduced to rubble, exposed to the merciless elements of the world.

Then someone comes along who sees beyond the devastation, who sees potential in the ruins. And offers us something we never thought possible: renewal.

Actually, that Someone was there all along. We just didn’t see Him. We didn’t recognize Him. Pain and bitterness blind us to the good things that remain.

And He doesn’t just offer restoration. You see, to restore something is to return it to its former condition.

God doesn’t want to restore us to our former condition, no matter how good we think it was. No, He wants to make us new. Brand new. With a new beginning, a new heart, a new mind, a new perspective, a new attitude.

Springtime is the time nature renews itself. Notice I didn’t say “restore.” You see, all the leaves and flowers and vegetation that died last fall don’t return. New leaves and flowers sprout.

So it is with each one who says yes to God: “When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 TLB)

Father, thank You that we don’t have to sit alone, abandoned, desolate, without hope. Thank You for sending Your Son to give us new life. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on John 3:1–21

NOTE: For more of Rose Hill Mansion’s history (and some fascinating photos), visit their website at www.rosehillmansion.com


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